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As we age, the need for affordable and accessible housing becomes increasingly important. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, households 80 and older have a median income of $25,000 annually, and nearly 1 in 4 has an income of $15,000 or less [1]. Housing cost burdens — households paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing — are a growing problem, affecting renters as well as homeowners. In times of emergency, such as natural disasters or personal crises, the need for safe and secure housing becomes even more pressing. This guide will provide an overview of emergency housing options available to seniors, and offer tips on how to navigate the process of finding and accessing these resources.

Understanding Emergency Housing Resources

Emergency housing options for seniors can include temporary shelters, transitional housing, and other forms of assistance. One of the best ways to start the process of finding emergency housing is to call 2-1-1, a confidential hotline run by United Way that can help seniors find local shelters or access transitional housing. Support for mental health, health care, food, and utilities is also available through 2-1-1 [2].

Eligibility for emergency housing varies depending on the program or resource. In some cases, seniors may need to meet certain income or other criteria in order to qualify. It is important to research and understand the eligibility requirements for each emergency housing option you are interested in.

Preparing for an Emergency

Preparation is key when it comes to accessing emergency housing. Seniors should take steps to gather important documents, such as identification, proof of income, and medical records, and store them in a safe and accessible place. It is also a good idea to create an emergency plan that includes contact information for family, friends, and emergency services, as well as information about any medications or special needs.

Tips for Navigating the Process

Navigating the process of finding and accessing emergency housing can be overwhelming, but there are several tips that can help make the process easier:


Emergency housing for seniors can be a lifeline in times of crisis, but accessing these resources can be challenging. By understanding the options available and taking steps to prepare, seniors can increase their chances of finding safe and secure housing in an emergency. With the right resources, support, and persistence, seniors can overcome the obstacles that come with navigating emergency housing.